Powerful Warm Ups for Your Middle School English Class - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Powerful Warm Ups for Your Middle School English Class

July 12, 2018 4 min read

To help our students get the most out of our Language Arts bell ringer work / warm ups / “do now” assignments and ensure rigor, we have found that aligning the work to the standards, spiraling the curriculum as often as possible, and including a variety of content can make a HUGE difference in student productivity and engagement. (Not sure what a bell ringer is? Read more about them here.)

What We Were Doing Before Our Powerful Warm Ups:

The “aha” moment that our bell ringers needed to be more powerful stemmed from our multiple concerns about the Daily Oral Language warm ups (DOL) our schools were currently using:

  • Students were mindlessly copying the incorrect sentences from the board into their notebooks. In practice, literally practicing the wrong thing!
  • The supposed corrections were in isolation, and students rarely transferred the correct forms of grammar to their own writing (it drove us notes when students wrote “should of” in their essays instead of “should have” even though it showed up in DOL all the time as an error to fix).
  • It took FOREVER to grade and students were bored out of their minds (we were, too!).
  • The main focus was on grammar, punctuation, and capitalization when in reality, we needed our students to practice so much more!
  • The answer key often only gave one correct answer, yet students were confused and would want to completely change the sentence in a way that worked, but didn’t match the concept DOL was focusing on … super frustrating!

It was time for something new and more effective! Hence, the powerful warm ups we created.

Searching for quality English Language Arts warm up work led us to several options, but when none met our needs (rigorous, standards-based, spiraled, and a variety of content), we decided to make our own.

As opposed to having different days of the week set aside for different skills (i.e. Word of the Week Wednesday), in the resource we created each day looks different in many of the weeks. The purpose in doing this is to address many of the Common Core ELA Standards, but also to make sure our students didn’t get bored with doing the same concepts each week, and thus, produce less quality work.

These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!
These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!

We included the following in our warm up work resource:

Grammar + Punctuation
Simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, compound-complex sentences, verbals, nouns as subjects and complements, nouns as objects, nouns as appositives, main parts of verbs, transitive and intransitive verbs, active and passive voice, hyphens and dashes, semicolons, quotations marks, parentheses, indicative and imperative mood, subjunctive mood, and punctuation and capitalization.
Root Words
Given Greek or Latin root words, students will find three words based off of specific word parts, create visual depictions, and write sentences.
Figurative Language
Similes, metaphors, idioms, hyperboles, and including figurative language in writing.
Literary Analysis
Introductory paragraphs, body paragraphs, claims, finding the right evidence, and justification.
Informational Text
Author’s purpose, compare and contrast, acknowledging different viewpoints, inferring viewpoints, and analyzing structure.
Narrative / Creative Writing
Leads, dialogue, transitions, creating stronger sentences and paragraphs, and endings.
Mentor Sentences
Students practice types of sentences, figurative language, vocabulary, and diction.
Literary Terms
Allusion, foreshadowing, mood, symbolism, tone, theme, and conflict.
Critical Thinking
Arguable and relevant high-level interest topics and journal responses to thought-provoking quotes.
Bonus Tasks
Goal setting, Halloween writing prompts and word search, Christmas writing prompts, Valentine’s Day poetry analysis, I Am Poem, getting to know me activities, blackout poetry, and much more!

We really are in love with this resource and and know our students appreciate the variety and rigor. Check out some of the feedback from other happy teachers as well.

“This product is perfect! The concepts and skills found in this are truly amazing. It is well organized and aesthetically appealing to the eye. If you are in the market for a bell ringer journal that students will actually enjoy and you will enjoy reading the responses, then look no further.”

“ALL of my resources from here are amazing. Very thorough and require critical thinking by my students. Worth every penny!!”
And we have put ALL of this together for you in a 180-page packet that covers 36 weeks of school! If you would like the entire packet of quality warm up work with everything already done for you and ready to go, it is available in our TpT store. We really are honestly in love with these bell ringers!
We now offer this resource in TWO different volumes! Volume 1 is perfect for grades 7-8 and Volume 2 is excellent for grades 6-7. If you teach multiple grade levels are want to utilize both, we also offer both resources in a bundle!
Save this post for later!
These English Language Arts (ELA) warm up / bell ringers / do now activities are the PERFECT way to start your day or class period with your middle school students. Includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, informational text, literary analysis, creative writing, and SO much more!
EB Academic Camps

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

Immediately receive access to our
Free Resource Library

We promise we won't spam you.

Let’s Connect

Popular Posts

Our Latest Posts



  • Let me know in the comments which camp you’re in?⁣
Holiday music right after Halloween!! 🎄 ⁣
Or ... You’re crazy, it’s WAY too early to start listening to holiday music! 😱⁣
Well, I used to be the latter, but the other day “White Christmas” came on, and I just decided to FULLY embrace the holidays early this year 😂 Oh well!⁣
With that being said, this Gingerbread House for Sale Descriptive Writing Activity is an AMAZING resource for your middle schoolers to dive into right before the break!⁣
Things are INSANE this time of year and kids need something that is engaging and fun, yet highly rigorous and academic 🎄 That’s exactly what this resource is! ✅ ⁣
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to DM you the link! Or you can visit the link in our profile as well 😘⁣
And if you already have and have used this resource in the past, I would LOVE to know that as well!!⁣
Hope you all are having a restful Sunday ♥️
  • One of the biggest mistakes we can make as writing teachers is requiring our students to start their essays with a HOOK. 
With this strategy, students gets STUCK on that first sentence before they can even get a chance to get to the heart of their paper! They end up wasting tons of precious writing time trying to come up with an interesting hook that oftentimes is a stretch. 
Instead, we want to give our students a CLEAR roadmap to begin their essays. One that will give them confidence in their abilities from the get go. One that allows them to quickly move into the meat of their critical analysis, so they can truly show us what they've learned. 
If you've ever taught hook and are ready to try a new, counterintuitive approach that WORKS and gives your students RESULTS, this episode is a MUST listen. 
Head over here to give it a listen --> ebacademics.com/34
  • Double tap if you agree ♥️♥️⁣
And if you need to call in sick to take a mental health day for yourself. DO IT. Take a day off and go get a pedicure, or go shopping, or go workout!⁣
Do whatever you need to do to get to the place of your best self. ⁣
I used to work with a teacher who took a mental health day every month. It was when I first started teaching, and I didn’t get it. Why was she doing that?⁣
Well, fast forward to a decade in the classroom later, and now I truly see the value and importance of doing that! ⁣
I know you hear it all the time, but let it sink in ...⁣
You need to do what’s best for YOU and take care of yourself first. If we aren’t operating from our best selves, then we’re not able to serve anyone the way that we’re capable of. ⁣
On another note, hope you all enjoyed that extra hour of sleep last night! And if you have young children, I can commiserate. My little guy woke up at 6:30 😂😭🤦🏼‍♀️📸 @dumbosteiner
  • Get a quick listen into this week’s podcast episode all about hooking your students into literary analysis writing! We have a free download for you to give you a quick WIN in the classroom. Listen to the rest of the episode and get the free download here -> ebacademics.com/33
  • We get A LOT of questions about classroom management and what to do when your kids are out of control or just not listening. ⁣
This is worth a read. So keep scrolling down!⁣
I’ll briefly share some of my thoughts on this (although I would like to do a whole podcast episode about it) ...⁣
1. You need to clearly communicate your expectations. Always. (Just as this picture shows.)⁣
2. Have a system in place that you use CONSISTENTLY. Consistency is key with anything, but especially when it comes to your rules, policies, and procedures. ⁣
3. Never, ever yell at your students. Ever. Period. ⁣
4. Come from a place of understanding and compassion. ⁣
5. Take a moment to have a conversation with individual students after class. Ask them what’s going on and what you can do to help them. Don’t yell at them or make them feel bad. Come from a place of kindness and compassion. If you haven’t tried this approach before, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the conversation. ⁣
6. Show your students the same amount of respect you expect from them. ⁣
7. You are the ultimate role model for behavior in your classroom. If you’re yelling or emotionally out of control when handling a situation, think about what that might be saying to your students ...⁣
Now I KNOW this is HARD, and yes, we make mistakes. And yes, not all of this works all of the time. ⁣
But what I can tell you is that these practices have been embedded into everything I’ve always done as a teacher, and I very rarely had behavior issues in any of my classrooms (classrooms in a wide range of ages, places, etc). ⁣
What else would you add? A practice that you’ve used year after year that has created a positive and kind classroom culture. Please feel free to share in the comments. I would love to read them ♥️
  • Jessica and I have a present for you ... coming on December 29th! Lol ... we know it’s quite a ways away, but we are already hard at work getting together another amazing online training for YOU! ⁣
So, first MARK YOUR CALENDAR for December 29th! ⁣
Then, let us know in the comments (or shoot us a DM) what is your biggest frustration when it comes to teaching writing? What do you absolutely HATE about it? The thing that makes your skin crawl. ⁣
Yes, tell us!⁣
I’ll share what mine used to be first ...⁣
The utter and insane frustration of my students making the same mistakes time and time again even though we’d covered that specific skill what seemed like a million times before. That was unbelievably difficult for me! ⁣
Your turn 👇🏼

Follow @ebacademics